Rising Pakistani singer in UAE diagnosed with cancer
He has been seeking financial help as the estimated cost of his treatment will be around Dh100,000.
Things were looking up for Pakistani expat Ejaz Khawaja, a singing sensation of the blue-collar community of the UAE, who got his second job after much struggle and was now gearing up to get married, when suddenly things took an unexpected turn.
The 33-year-old sales executive, who has been in the UAE since 2013 and has won a number of singing talent shows, including popular talent show in workers community called Camp Ka Champ last year, was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML).
Khawaja has been part of many live bands and events in the UAE and was also picked up by Indian channel Zee TV to do playback singing for the title track of drama serial Parwaaz shot in the UAE.
"It happened all of a sudden without any kind symptoms. I was absolutely fine then one day I started feeling a bit sick and began vomiting, that was followed by fever. I got my blood tests done from a private clinic and when the results came the doctor stared at me in disbelief. He asked me if this was my report, as I looked completely healthy and had no signs of any serious disease. Without revealing much details he asked me to rush to the emergency room of the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City hospital," Khawaja told Khaleej Times.
"I still remember it was a Thursday and there weren't many doctors available by the time I reached the hospital in the evening but when I showed my report in the ER, they at once admitted me and I knew something was seriously wrong. It was only a day later I was told I had bone marrow cancer, where the cells don't mature the way they're supposed to and these immature cells, often called blast cells, keep building up," he explained.
Khawaja was all set to get married on October 26 this year but just a week before the set date he was diagnosed with cancer, due to which he has postponed it indefinitely.
Khawaja underwent a session of chemotherapy at Sheikh Khalifa hospital and remained there for 70 days. He didn't have to pay for the treatment as the hospital was aware of his circumstances. He has been discharged but has been asked to get a bone marrow transplant done at once, which he said he will get done in Pakistan as his brother has been identified as a donor and the operation is arranged at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi.
A sales executive by profession, Khawaja is now on an indefinite sick leave without pay as he doesn't know if or when he will be able to arrange money for his transplant. Being the sole breadwinner of his family, Khawaja who barely earns Dh3,000 a month said he has been running from pillar to post to different charities to get some financial help as the estimated cost of the transplant will be around Dh100,000. " With great difficulty I had bought a flat in Pakistan but I had to sell it to fund my treatment as the medicines are extremely expensive. And still there is a huge amount I need to collect to fund the transplant," he said.
Khawaja needs to get his bone marrow transplant done as soon as possible as AML can quickly be life-threatening as it's is "acute, and this type of leukemia can spread quickly to the blood and to other parts of the body.
"The hospital has asked me to arrange the money before December 15, 2019 as they have more bookings after that. This is my only chance as I am lucky to have a donor as well as a slot arranged at the hospital but I do not have the money for it. I am hoping God will help me in some or the other way," he added.
Talking about how diagnosis of cancer has affected his perception of life, Khawaja said: " Initially I got very depressed but I am lucky I live with my cousins here in Abu Dhabi who helped me stay positive throughout. Being informed that one has cancer, especially at a young age, is terrifying but at the same time helps us realise the little things in life we take for granted. Everything I ever lived for has now taken a back seat, fame, money, career and even singing, as nothing will benefit me if I don't have health, Indeed health is the real wealth. I'd like to advise everyone to go for regular check-ups done after every few months and give attention to your health," he concluded.
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